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Decoders and motor quality

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  • Member since
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Decoders and motor quality
Posted by restorator on Friday, April 06, 2018 4:04 PM

Naturally, there are differences in the quality of loco motors and also dcc decoders. My question is whether a better decoder can make a motor run better and smoother. In my case I have a cheap bachmann GE44 ton switcher that makes a lot of noise and tends to sometimes fairly jerky. I have cleaned and lubed, and played with the few settings in this decoder, and it works ok for the price, but it would be nice if I could make it better without going crazy.

Several of my locos are older Proto 2000s that I have added all digitrax decoders (and a few axle gears) to and they run very nice and smooth, but I would think they have better motors to start with. 

So my question is whether your opinions are the poor runnning is in the limitations of the motor or the decoder? 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, April 06, 2018 4:18 PM

My experience is that a decoder does not make a questionable or poor running motor good.  As it runs in DC, so will it in DCC.

Mike.

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Posted by restorator on Friday, April 06, 2018 4:34 PM

mbinsewi

My experience is that a decoder does not make a questionable or poor running motor good.  As it runs in DC, so will it in DCC. 

Mike.

 



In this case the loco is already DCC from the factory. I am asking if a better decoder can make it better.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, April 06, 2018 5:35 PM

restorator
In my case I have a cheap bachmann GE44 ton switcher that makes a lot of noise and tends to sometimes fairly jerky.

OK, I misunderstood your statement.  I thought the loco you were referring to was a lower quality Bachmann, with DC.

I still have my doubts if a "better" decoder will make a difference, but I suppose it might be worth a try.  You might get better motor control.

Mike.

 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, April 06, 2018 5:44 PM

I have a Bachmann 45 tonner, DCC.  It is not silent but I would not describe it as noisy.  I think even the new Bachmann's have cracked gear issues though.

Now my Lionel hustler from the 60's?,  may have been the first loco with sound, it was so noisy.

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

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Posted by gregc on Friday, April 06, 2018 5:50 PM

restorator
My question is whether a better decoder can make a motor run better and smoother.

what in your mind is a better decoder?

 

i think less expensive motors will run better when driven by a pulse width modulated (PWM) waveform and can be controlled better using back EMF.   But I believe all decoders use PWM and even inexpensive decoders such as TCS T1 use BEMF.

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Friday, April 06, 2018 5:55 PM

Uh-oh . . .

I was gonna mention that modern decoders with back emf were quieter due to some sort of mode supression, but Greg beat me to it. Dang! Just as well because I don't know the details.

My new engines with new decoders are quieter, but I don't know how much is attributed to the back emf features and how much is simply because they're new.

Robert

LINK to SNSR Blog


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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, April 06, 2018 5:55 PM

Hi restorator:

If you want excellent motor control, try an ESU Loksound Select (sound) or LokPilot (non sound) decoder. If any decoder can make your locomotive run better, they will.

I would suggest that you not cut the decoder wires too short if you are hard wiring the decoder. That way, if the decoder doesn't make a difference, you can remove it and use it in a better locomotive. Hobby dealers like Tony's Train Exchange can re-program the sound files for a few dollars.

One thing that the ESU decoders will do is adjust themselves to match the performance charactaristics of the motor. It is a very simple procedure using CV 54. It is outlined on page 23 of the manual:

http://www.esu.eu/en/downloads/instruction-manuals/digital-decoders/

Scroll down to the Loksound Select Diesel and Steam Users Manual.

Don't be put off by the size of the manual. Most of it you will probably never use.

Dave

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Posted by richg1998 on Friday, April 06, 2018 6:57 PM

 

I do recall a discussion in the Bachmann forums back in 2008 about the 2-8-0 switched to a highly efficient three pole motor that users thought was quite nice. No idea if the same motor was used in any other locos. I still have the link to the discussion and a comment from a company rep.

Rich

 

N

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Posted by DigitalGriffin on Friday, April 06, 2018 8:08 PM

I would kindly disagree.

 

Those bachmanns deciders are junk and use a low pulse width rate frequency.  At slow speeds it will cause it to growl.  Also these is no bemf feedback to prevent stalls at lower speeds.

 

A better quality decoder will remove the growl and provide more consistent low speed operation.  A digitrax dn166ps will deliver an excellent replacement for less money than a tcs.

Be sure to remove the inductor and cap and it will run like a charm. And the higher frequency pwm will make it quieter.

Don - Specializing in layout DC->DCC conversions

Modeling C&O transition era and steel industries There's Nothing Like Big Steam!

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, April 06, 2018 8:38 PM

gregc

 

 
restorator
My question is whether a better decoder can make a motor run better and smoother.

 

what in your mind is a better decoder?

 

i think less expensive motors will run better when driven by a pulse width modulated (PWM) waveform and can be controlled better using back EMF.   But I believe all decoders use PWM and even inexpensive decoders such as TCS T1 use BEMF.

 

 The cheapy decoder that Bachmann used on those doesn;t even do high frequency PWM, it's not a 'silent drive' type of decoder. Probably because of the LC filter.

To the OP: Most Bachmann locos have capacitors across the motor leads. Just removing these can make even the included cheap decoder work better, but removing them AND switching to a better quality decoder, even an inexpensive NCE one, can make a HUGE difference. My 44 tonner I got as a DC version and installed a TCS decoder - it runs great. Much of the growling noise you are getting is not the gears, or a bad motor - it's because the cheapy decoder is driving the motor with pusles that are in the audible range. Better decoders, nearly anything you buy new today, drives the motor with pulses at a frequency above human hearing.

 The initial replies are correct, if a loco runs poorly on DC, adding a decoder won;t magically fix it. But in the case of a poor decoder - a better one will make a difference.

                                         --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by restorator on Friday, April 06, 2018 10:36 PM

rrinker

 

 
gregc

 

 
restorator
My question is whether a better decoder can make a motor run better and smoother.

 

what in your mind is a better decoder?

 

i think less expensive motors will run better when driven by a pulse width modulated (PWM) waveform and can be controlled better using back EMF.   But I believe all decoders use PWM and even inexpensive decoders such as TCS T1 use BEMF.

 

 

 

 The cheapy decoder that Bachmann used on those doesn;t even do high frequency PWM, it's not a 'silent drive' type of decoder. Probably because of the LC filter.

To the OP: Most Bachmann locos have capacitors across the motor leads. Just removing these can make even the included cheap decoder work better, but removing them AND switching to a better quality decoder, even an inexpensive NCE one, can make a HUGE difference. My 44 tonner I got as a DC version and installed a TCS decoder - it runs great. Much of the growling noise you are getting is not the gears, or a bad motor - it's because the cheapy decoder is driving the motor with pusles that are in the audible range. Better decoders, nearly anything you buy new today, drives the motor with pulses at a frequency above human hearing.

 The initial replies are correct, if a loco runs poorly on DC, adding a decoder won;t magically fix it. But in the case of a poor decoder - a better one will make a difference.

                                         --Randy

 

 

 

Thanks guys. That is what I was wondering about. And Randy's description of the pulsing growling noise is exactly what I am experiencing. 

So the opinion is a better quality decoder WILL make a difference, but within the limitations of the motor quality of course.

I am not expecting miracles, just better than what it is now. It is very irritating. I will pick a decoder and make an order and I will try to remember to post the results once I get it through surgery.

 

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Posted by restorator on Friday, April 13, 2018 6:29 PM

I wanted to post an update for others searching this question. 
Yes, a better decoder makes a world of difference. 

I had a digitax dh166 I had pulled out of another unit and I tried it with that and it went from jerky and noisy to smooth and pretty quiet.

I order and installed a Digitrax N SDXN136PS and make a small speaker baffle box to fit the little space available and got it all wired up and it is a world of difference. If you run it with no sound you can still hear the motor a very little bit. It will never be as silent as a Kato, but it is much, much better than before.


I wish I would have thought to do a video on the project before I started, but at least I can show the results I am very happy with:

  https://photos.app.goo.gl/haoDhpSy91mvLu9t1 

Excuse the shaky camera!

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Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Friday, April 13, 2018 7:16 PM

So a better decoder might make my Bachmann Baldwin Sharknose a bit quieter?  With the built in decoder it growls like crazy.

Disclaimer:  This post may contain humor, sarcasm, and/or flatulence.

Michael Mornard

Bringing the North Woods to South Dakota!

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, April 13, 2018 8:01 PM

restorator

I wanted to post an update for others searching this question. 
Yes, a better decoder makes a world of difference. 

I had a digitax dh166 I had pulled out of another unit and I tried it with that and it went from jerky and noisy to smooth and pretty quiet.

I order and installed a Digitrax N SDXN136PS and make a small speaker baffle box to fit the little space available and got it all wired up and it is a world of difference. If you run it with no sound you can still hear the motor a very little bit. It will never be as silent as a Kato, but it is much, much better than before.


I wish I would have thought to do a video on the project before I started, but at least I can show the results I am very happy with:

  https://photos.app.goo.gl/haoDhpSy91mvLu9t1 

Excuse the shaky camera!

 

 Nicely done. You made it louder Laugh

Really, sounds good and runs quite nicely. That's the exact same one I have, only I have the non-DCC one because I planned to put my own decoder in all along. Sound at some point, but it just has the TCS motor one for now. It's also getting the paint stripped (non of that PRR stuff around here, I tell you!) and repainted for my cement company.

                            --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, April 13, 2018 8:01 PM

Bayfield Transfer Railway

So a better decoder might make my Bachmann Baldwin Sharknose a bit quieter?  With the built in decoder it growls like crazy.

 

If it currently has the decoder that Bachmann supplied in it, yes. 

                         --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    April, 2012
  • From: Huron, SD
  • 697 posts
Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Sunday, April 15, 2018 3:23 PM

rrinker

 

 
Bayfield Transfer Railway

So a better decoder might make my Bachmann Baldwin Sharknose a bit quieter?  With the built in decoder it growls like crazy.

 

 

 

If it currently has the decoder that Bachmann supplied in it, yes. 

                         --Randy

 

 

 

Thanks.

I tried a Bachmann Shark at Trainfest some years back and it was fairly quiet.  I was disappointed with the one I bought, and now I know why.

Of course Bachmann would make sure their demo model ran its best.

And if I'm gonna put in a new decoder, might as well put in sound.  Fortunately, the body and detail are quite nice, so even after buying a new decoder it's going to be a very cost effective engine.

 

Disclaimer:  This post may contain humor, sarcasm, and/or flatulence.

Michael Mornard

Bringing the North Woods to South Dakota!

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